Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Week 2 - no plan at The Plan

So, week two is done and dusted and what a fantastic week it was. I really felt that there was something of a seismic shift in the way the experiments have been going this week and that is inevitably because I’ve been doing it for a while now and my initial nerves have calmed down somewhat – which has allowed me to play and truly experiment.
The tone of the evenings has been really lovely this week – I should say that The Plan is an absolutely perfect venue for performances of this kind and the staff and management have all been incredibly kind and accommodating.

There is definitely something in the way that audiences have reacted to the work has really made me think that I might be onto something really interesting. The experiments present a safe environment for people to share experiences and tell stories – probably because I’m allowing myself to be as open and as honest as I can be – and people really seem to want to share in  a way that I hoped would happen but I wasn’t certain that they would.

There was a really interesting moment in the last show at Noah’s Yard in Swansea which informed so much of what happened last week in Cardiff. One of the things that I was playing around with in the first few shows was wrongfooting people by saying at a certain point that I hated them. This keys in to one of my central interests and obsessions which have lead to this project: how do we manage to get through our lives without killing each other? So, I was playing around with how people would react to this but, of course, I don’t mean it literally. And an audience member immediately picked up on that fact and suggested that I was bullshitting – which essentially I was for dramatic effect.

What this moment showed me is that, in these experiments, in the context of absolute openness and sharing and vulnerability, I simply cannot ‘pretend’ at any point because it immediately jars and feels wrong, like I’m cheating somehow.

So, with that experience fresh in my head, this week’s experiments were much more open, honest, direct and straightforward and all the better for that.

So far I don’t seem to be on the verge of running out of things to say to people and they are certainly not running out of things to say to me – the level of interaction and sharing is total and incredibly exhilarating and exciting.

The question remains as to whether what I’m doing is theatre or not – and I don’t really have a satisfactory answer to that yet. I’m a performer and I have an audience. Together we make a piece of something – call it theatre, art, performance, whatever you like. But something happens between us ... and on the evidence of this week, that something is quite profound and moving. As well as being funny and scary and lots of other things too.

One disappointment this week was the lack of audience – the 8.30 showing each evening simply didn’t happen as no-one turned up. I’m not going to get all wound up about this since I know that I am an unknown quantity to most people and that what I’m offering is also – and we really don’t seem to go for the unknown in our society anymore (if we ever did). But if you’re reading this and thinking about coming along then please do. No need to book tickets, just buy on the door. If you fancy something a little out of the ordinary, something that you may never have seen before, something that offers you a place to talk about things with people in a way that you’ve never imagined ... then this might be the evening for you.

In that light – if you’ve watched the highlights of the 20th May you will have seen that I offer the audience a day of my life as a random act of kindness. This is the only truly pre-planned element of the work and I wanted to say officially that I will be doing it for all the experiments in this first series. If you want to know why, or you want a chance to take me up on the offer, then you have to come along. But here’s what I have committed to so far:

1) Undertake a day long journey to an unknown destination with Owen (audience member).
2) Spend a day on the streets of Swansea speaking to people with Greg (audience member).
3) Spend a day on High Street, Swansea, speaking to everyone I meet with Elaine (audience member).
4) Spend a day with my friend, Steve, enjoying each other’s company.
5) Speak at a conference on climate change and sustainability about human communication.
6) Take part in the world record skinny dipping challenge on 19th June at Llangennith beach, Rhossilli.
7) Go through my student neighbours bin bags and separate the rubbish they could have recycled but couldn’t be arsed to.
8) Spend a day visiting people at an old people’s home who don’t normally receive visitors.
9) Speak at next Ignite event in Cardiff.

24 more opportunities to get me to do something ...

Thanks so much to everyone who has come along so far and given their all to what have been some of the most exciting, fascinating and life affirming evenings of my professional life. Here’s to the rest of them and beyond.

This week: Civic Centre, Oystermouth Road, Swansea – Wednesday 1st – Friday 3rd. 7pm and 8.30pm nightly. Book in advance at or simply come along on the night.

Hope to see you soon,


1 comment:

  1. Nice to see I get a mention but no word of your promise to try some Health Kinesiology.... shame Phil, could give you some good material! And I was planning on coming along at 8.30 tonight.... oh well.